Another Day, Another Problem With Facebook's Random Decisions To Block Content

from the broken-systems dept

Last week one of the big stories of the week was Facebook blocking people from posting an iconic photo from the Vietnam War because it showed a young girl, naked, running from an attack. After lots of press and lots of public outcry, Facebook relented and claimed that it would be adjusting its policies. And yet... another week, another set of stories of problems on Facebook. It's unclear how widespread this is, but on Monday there were suddenly reports (on Twitter, of course) of Facebook randomly blocking perfectly reasonable links. The first example I saw of this was reports that Facebook was blocking this story from The Intercept about Rep. Barbara Lee's lone vote against the PATRIOT Act (the only member of the House to vote against it) a few days after September 11th. Seems like the kind of story Facebook would appreciate, but:
Then I saw famed writer John Scalzi running into similar issues over his blog post mocking some racists on Twitter:
And then there were reports (sure to kick up the conspiracy theories!) that Facebook had blocked a story about Hillary Clinton's health:
But, on the flip side, someone also reported that trying to post the NY Times job opening for a climate change editor... was also blocked:
I could go digging for more -- and there are likely many more examples. This is almost certainly some sort of technical glitch that will be sorted out quickly, if it hasn't been already. But it still should serve as a reminder, to be wary of putting our faith entirely in 3rd party platforms for our media access, when they have the ability to block at will (or even somewhat arbitrarily when the bots go crazy).

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Sep 2016 @ 5:05am

    Simply put...

    Facebook sucks ass!!!! Worst social network in the world!!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    con-as-in-spiracy, 13 Sep 2016 @ 5:30am

    correlation

    Could this be related to yesterday's Ars Technica article on the corruption of Harvard professors by the sugar industry? Maybe all of Harvard, and its output, are corrupt?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    John Cressman, 13 Sep 2016 @ 5:54am

    They are censors

    Google, Facebook, Apple... all of the major tech companies have their own agenda - in this case, the Leftist agenda.

    That's the way of things. They're private companies, they can do what they want. Same thing with news outlets.

    Objective journalism died a long time ago - if it really ever existed at all.

    That said, it would be nice if they - like the left wing media - would at least let people know that's what they are and that they will be censoring any content that doesn't adhere to their agenda. Same for the right wing.

    It would be nice if some agency rated these companies and media outlets so people knew exactly what they were getting. Most "intelligent" people can figure out immediately by looking at the way they word the headlines , which way they lean.

    "Hillary Health Scare A Problem for Election?" - Obvious right wing.

    "Hillary Health Conspiracy at it Again" - Obvious left wing.

    It's all about agenda and most of these large companies are starting to flex their muscles to get their agenda to the top - in Google, literally to the top of the search engine. And the average Joe things these things are really trending, being searched, not being searched, etc. because they think these companies are non-biased, non-partisan.

    There is no such thing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Sep 2016 @ 6:13am

      Re: They are censors

      Explain the left wing bias in blocking a post about racism?
      Obviously I'm not from the US, but generally left wing (worldwide) is taken to be anti racism so would expect a post about racism not to be blocked or is there some special pro racism left wing US stance I'm unaware of?
      Similarly, as most climate change deniers seem to be of the right wing persuasion, where's the left wing agenda in blocking a climate change editor post?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 13 Sep 2016 @ 6:39am

        Re: Re: They are censors

        All stories are biased. End of Story. The mere selection of what is and is not news worthy creates bias on that process alone.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 13 Sep 2016 @ 6:30am

      Re: They are censors

      Are you the same fool who's kept posting about "leftists" on every story about the newspaper business recently, or just another one who can't accept political nuance and has to call everything they don't like "leftist". Either way, are you able to have a discussion once questioned about nuance and evidence, or are you just another hit and run poster like the other guy?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Sep 2016 @ 7:15am

      Re: They are censors

      "Hillary Health Scare A Problem for Election?" - Obvious right wing....

      The first article I saw about Hillary's health problem at the 9/11 event was by CNN. CNN has not hidden the fact they are in the tank for Hillary.

      Stories really get confusing when biased news outlets suddenly realize that "If it bleeds...it leads" stories are what brings in views.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    theOtherDude, 13 Sep 2016 @ 6:11am

    Doesnt Matter

    Millennials don't use facebook, so it doesn't matter anymore.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Dave Cortright (profile), 13 Sep 2016 @ 7:10am

    It's to b e expected...

    ...that any publishing platform will have biases that not everyone agrees with. The solution is more speech from a diverse set of people on a diverse set of platforms.

    Sure, keep calling them out if you feel it's newsworthy, but to me it's sort of like reporting on the sun rising again today.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Sep 2016 @ 7:26am

      Re: It's to b e expected...

      What's being called out is how the definition of "newsworthy" has changed. I grew up with B/W TV. Sure enough there was bias back then but the Holy Grail of recognition was a Pulitzer for outstanding journalism and they didn't care who got hurt in breaking newsworthy stories.

      Then along comes CNN and 24hr news cycles. There just isn't enough 'facts' to fill that many hours of TV time and news coverage started to transform. These days "News" is just glorified blogging and tabloid headlines. Journalist no longer seek a Pulitzer...the Holy Grail of today is to be on someone's A-List.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Sep 2016 @ 8:25am

    Left wing in the U.S. started racism. The southern Democrats were the originators of the KKK..

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Wendy Cockcroft, 14 Sep 2016 @ 5:36am

      Re: Define Left Wing

      The Democrats are not and never have been left wing. That there are a few left/liberals in there doesn't make the party left wing.

      Get off the Red Scare! bandwagon. It's old.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 19 Sep 2016 @ 12:02am

        Re: Re: Define Left Wing

        Also, for the AC to be correct, you'd have to ignore the well-documented southern strategy utilised during the civil rights era, which courted racists to switch party affiliation. In other words, the southern Democrats who were racists became Republicans, while those fighting for equality remained Democrats.

        For some reason, Republicans seem to ignore this part of history when pretending that Lincoln and the civil rights movement were on their side. It's a well-worn tactic to fool the ignorant. The fact is, the place of the parties on the political spectrum is not what it was in the 60s.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Zos (profile), 13 Sep 2016 @ 8:26am

    http://motherboard.vice.com/read/cops-say-uks-new-drug-law-will-push-more-sales-to-the-dark-web?trk_ source=recommended

    i was unable to post this for 24 hours yesterday, same response, flagged. posts today no problem, i think someones algo was on fire.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Dingledore the Mildly Uncomfortable When Seated, 13 Sep 2016 @ 8:59am

    Social network != News network
    Moderators != Editors

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Sep 2016 @ 3:10pm

    Facebook is a spy machine, like Google, etc. Does "PRISM" ring any bells?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    John Mayor, 13 Sep 2016 @ 8:37pm

    DIGITAL HUMAN RIGHTS MUSCLE

    Mike!... and to be completely serious!... I'd like to see a GLOBALLY MANADATED icon on my taskbar, that-- when tapped!-- will summon (in real time!), a Digital Human Rights intermediary (WITH A GLOBAL MECHANISM AT THE READY!) who is empowered (THAT IS EMPOWERED!) to challenge the slightest breach of Digital Human Rights (e.g., arbitrarily taking down a Comment Log/ Clog on a SAID Public Website!)!... and with all the powers needed to rectify the breach!... and!... who will/ that will hold to account (IN REAL TIME!), the one who/ that which, has made the breach!
    .
    Simply put!... netizens should no longer have to wait for some "mysterious process" to be invoked, in order to find justice for Digital Human Rights violations! It's time for a bit of *SS KICKING!
    .
    Please!... no emails!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Wendy Cockcroft, 14 Sep 2016 @ 5:40am

      Re: DIGITAL HUMAN RIGHTS MUSCLE

      John, you won't get emails from TD unless you ask for them and even then it's not guaranteed. Sending them your email is not an invitation to spam you, and you're not obliged to send it.
      .
      Secondly, this post is BARELY COHERENT!... and would be more readable (AND LEGIBLE) if you just wrote normally.
      .
      As it is, I keep wishing you'd get back on your meds each time I read one of your posts. Sorry, man!... SOMEONE HAD TO SAY IT!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    toyotabedzrock (profile), 14 Sep 2016 @ 9:39pm

    I posted the NYT article about Facebook unblocking this photo and was hit with an Indecency warning by Facebook.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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